DENVER -- Face it, Washington: Our mania is wackier than your mania.
There's no question that folks back in Beltwayland have gone hog wild over the Redskins and that Super Bowl mania is growing more manic each day in the Washington area as the Redskins-Broncos matchup looms closer.
All of that must pale, however, when compared with perfervid Broncomania in the Rocky Mountain West, where the Broncos serve as "home team" for a big swath of geography that reaches from the Canadian border with Montana to the Rio Grande in New Mexico.
Sure, Washington, you've got people who wear different variations of burgundy and gold clothing every day to show their support for the Redskins.
Can they compete with the Broncomaniacs here who have painted houses, trucks, businesses and even bald heads in various combinations of blue and orange? Then there's the beauty salon that will paint your fingernails with tasteful orange portraits of individual Broncos.
Wally Kenny, a Denver entrepreneur who has opened three "Bronco Heaven" stores, said, "Anything that says Broncos or Super Bowl sells out the minute we get it in."
The piece de resistance in the parade of team-color fashions, though, was achieved two weeks ago by Linda Kirchner, who entered a local competition for the best Broncos-inspired costume.
According to radio station KOAQ, which sponsored the competition, Kirchner won by riding a horse through downtown Denver while wearing nothing but blue and orange paint. The crowd, as they say, went wild.
And sure, Washington, you've got people asking, and receiving, outlandish prices for Super Bowl tickets. But can you match the offer by Denver fan Jim Gatlin? He placed an advertisement in the Rocky Mountain News offering to trade his wife for one Super Bowl ticket.
When this became a local cause celebre, Gatlin explained that the ad was a practical joke but added that he was still willing to negotiate if such a deal would produce a ticket. The prankster's wife responded to this bit of fun by recruiting two dozen friends to pelt him with cream pies.
As for musical manifestations of the mania, Denver can't compete with the sheer class of Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the National Symphony Orchestra in "Hail to the Redskins," as the maestro did before the Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl five years ago. Or even with the orchestra's 45 rpm recording of the team anthem in 1955.
The Broncos don't have an inspiring fight song, but the region's rock music stations are filling the gap by playing a plethora of Bronco-maniacal ballads. Most are musical tributes to John Elway, the quarterback who has become the town's reigning demigod and a media idol of Herculean proportions.
It's difficult to survive a day here, for example, without hearing a group called Kathy and the Cheerleaders as they croon their megahit, "Johnnie Elway," sung to the tune of the rock classic "Johnnie Angel" ("When I hear him say 'Go long,' my heart begins to fly").
And there's the tenderly sentimental selection "We La La La Love Our Broncos," sung more or less to the tune of "La Bamba." In this version, the hero is "Juan Elway."
Commercially, the biggest musical hit is a little ditty called "Touchdown Banditos," about the trio of Bronco pass receivers known as the "Three Amigos." This has been made into a video, and producers say they'll sell 20,000 copies at $9.95 apiece before kickoff Sunday in San Diego.
This is the second consecutive Super Bowl trip for Denver, but the mania may run deeper this year because of the added zest that comes from competing with Washington, a town widely viewed here as a bastion of lily-livered eastern elitism.
Denverites, not well-informed about the depth of Redskins mania in Washington, tend to believe that folks inside the Capital Beltway are too concerned with such distractions as the presidential campaigns and the State of the Union message to focus on football.
"Football isn't the biggest sport in Washington," sneered Denver Post columnist Woody Paige. Even worse, he said, Redskins fans prefer "pate and French wine" to hot dogs and beer in the stands.
Then Paige unloaded the unkindest cut of all. "In Washington," he wrote, "getting tickets to the Super Bowl doesn't quite have the same meaning as receiving an invitation to a Georgetown cocktail party."